The Bosphorus Strait

Is Istanbul In Europe Or Asia?

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Istanbul is a fascinating city that straddles right between Asia and Europe. Istanbul is a major city in the country of Turkey.

Istanbul has the famous Bosphorus Strait, which is used as the dividing line between Europe and Asia. The city is divided almost right down the middle between the European and Asia Continents, so Istanbul sits between two continents. Many consider Istanbul a transcontinental city that is straddled by two different continents.

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Istanbul – Europe and Asia Divide

Istanbul is the only city globally that is spread over two continents. With the Bosphorus Strait acting as the dividing line between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a city with two parts; one is within the Asian continent, and the other is in the European continent. The Strait of Bosphorus has an inlet known as the Golden Horn that further divides the European side of Istanbul into northern and southern halves.

Turkey also has the Sea of Marmara, a sea located entirely within Turkey’s borders.

Turkey and Europe

Even though Istanbul is split between Asia and Europe, the country of Turkey is considered by some to be European and not Middle Eastern. Some consider Turkey to be European because the Bosphorus Strait goes right through Istanbul, which separates Europe and Western Asia.

Another reason some consider Turkey to be European is due to Istanbul’s history of being considered part of the Roman Empire. 

Turkey has applied to be part of the European Union (EU), so Turkey sees itself as European more than Asian. They have not been able to get full membership yet as the European Union is concerned with some aspects of the Rule of Law and other issues in Turkey. 

What adds to this confusion about whether Turkey is in Europe or Asia is that many see Turkey as more closely aligned with the Middle East than Europe.

But even though Turkey and Istanbul are divided between Asia and Europe, Turkey and the city of Istanbul are considered European by some and Middle Eastern by others or Western Asian. The EU Commission has shifted Turkey to the MENA, Middle East, and North African countries.

So even though Turkey tried to get into the EU, many now consider it part of the Middle East, not Europe.

Istanbul – A Transcontential City

Many people call Istanbul a transcontinental city because it spans two continents – Asia and Europe. Istanbul is not 100% on one continent or another. It is a city that sits on the divide between these two continents through the Bosphorus Strait.

The term is intercontinental is usually used to refer to a railroad that went across two continents. But in this case, the term transcontinental refers to the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Istanbul between the two continents.

The Bosphorus Strait

The Bosphorus Strait is a waterway located right in the heart of Istanbul, also known as the Strait of Istanbul. The Bosphorus Strait is the waterway that links the European part of the city from the Asian region; in other words, it is the dividing line between Europe and Asia.

The Bosphorus Strait is 31 kilometers or 19 miles long. It has a width that can vary between 730 to 3300 meters. The strait is about 11 meters or 360 feet deep.

The strait is wide at the north entrance and narrows in parts, making it a dangerous waterway.

Today the strait is of significant importance as it links the Black Sea with the world’s oceans; it is an important shipping channel. Daily ships are going up and down the Bosphorus Strait.

Several major shipping ports on the Black Sea need to go through the Bosphorus Strait to get to the global waterways. The Danube River flows to the Black Sea and is also a vital trade artery for Balkan countries.

The major shipping ports on the Black Sea that would need to go through the Bosphorus Straight include:

  • Ukraine – Odesa and Illicheivsk Ports
  • Russia – Novorossiysk and Taupse Ports
  • Georgia – Batumi Port
  • Bulgaria – Varna and Burgas Port
  • Romania – Constanta

These port cities would need to send their ship through the Bosphorus Strait. This makes both Istanbul and this strait significant waterway.

Istanbul is a very ancient transcontinental city between the two continents of Europe and Western Asia. The city is divided by a crucial strait which helps link many parts of Asia and Europe by sea to the rest of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Istanbul in Europe or Asia?

Istanbul is a transcontinental city that spans both Europe and Asia. The city is divided by the Bosphorus Strait, with its western part in Europe and its eastern part in Asia.

Which continent is the majority of Istanbul located in?

Most of Istanbul’s population and significant landmarks are located on the European side of the city.

Can I visit both Europe and Asia in Istanbul?

Yes, you can! Istanbul offers the unique opportunity to experience both European and Asian cultures within the same city.

How is Istanbul’s transcontinental location significant?

Istanbul’s strategic position has made it a historically important city for trade, culture, and politics, bridging the gap between two continents.

What is the Bosphorus Strait?

The Bosphorus Strait is a narrow natural waterway that separates the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

Are there any landmarks that straddle the continents in Istanbul?

Yes, the Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge are two iconic bridges that physically connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

How do people travel between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul?

People can use various modes of transportation, including ferries, bridges, and tunnels, to travel between the European and Asian sides of the city.

Is Istanbul the only city that spans two continents?

No, Istanbul is one of the most famous examples, but there are a few other cities around the world that straddle two continents, such as Atyrau in Kazakhstan and Orenburg in Russia.

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What Makes Istanbul So Special?

As a transcontinental city, it is simple, unique, and memorable. It is also an ancient city home to the Roman Empire and, in fact, over four to three other empires. The Ottoman Empire controlled Istanbul for a long time as it was at the center of the arts. It’s as simple as a city with a fantastic skyline that offers anyone visiting a lot of great things to do.

You can learn more by reading What Makes Istanbul So Special? by clicking here.

Why Was Constantinople Renamed To Istanbul?

The city of Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in the 1930s. Before this time, many people used the name Istanbul, but only part of the city was within the old city walls. Constantinople was named after the Roman Emperor Constantine, who was credited with bringing Christianity to the Roman Empire.

To learn more, you can read our blog on Why Was Constantinople Renamed To Istanbul? by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel
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One response to “Is Istanbul In Europe Or Asia?”

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